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Car seat checkup highlight of Child Passenger Safety Week

National Seat Belt Check Day is marked by local agencies providing voluntary safety checks Saturday in Buford. Gwinnett County police officer Aaren Dieffenbacher performs a safety check on a child seat in a car driven by Carlos Pina and his son Dylan Pina, 6, of Duluth. The child seat passed inspection.

National Seat Belt Check Day is marked by local agencies providing voluntary safety checks Saturday in Buford. Gwinnett County police officer Aaren Dieffenbacher performs a safety check on a child seat in a car driven by Carlos Pina and his son Dylan Pina, 6, of Duluth. The child seat passed inspection.

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National Seat Belt Check Day is marked by local agencies providing voluntary safety checks Saturday in Buford. Sylvia Goalen, a fire and life safety education officer with he Gwinnett County Fire Department, performs a safety check on a child seat used by Dylan Pina, 6, of Duluth. Dylann's father, Carlos Pina is the driver of the car. The child seat passed inspection.

BUFORD -- Child safety is a priority of new parents.

They go through the steps of getting a child safety seat and ensuring their new son or daughter is protected while in a vehicle.

However, even when most think their seat is properly secured and safe, in actuality four out of five are not properly secured or safe for kids.

"It's an amazing statistic that four out of five car seats are used incorrectly, whether not installed properly or just not safe for kids," said Tania Diaz, Safe Kids Gwinnett coordinator. "Car seats are the easiest and most difficult way to keep kids safe. A lot are giving parents a false sense of security."

In an effort to get the message out, Safe Kids Gwinnett partnered with Jim Ellis GMC to host National Seat Check Saturday where certified child passenger safety technicians provided one-on-one help with installation.

"We want to ensure all parents and grandparents have confidence in the safety seats they have installed in their vehicles," Diaz said.

According to Diaz, five safety steps every parent should take include keeping their children in rear-facing car seats for as long as possible (ideally until age 2) selecting the correct seat for the weight, height or age of the child, tightening the harness enough, knowing when to let kids ride in the front seat and making sure the seat is installed properly.

"This is an initiative pushed by emergency-room doctors," she said. "There are more preventable deaths for children due to child safety seats than diseases and cancer combined."

For Buford resident Ashley Barrett, the event opened her eyes to the safety of her children.

After stopping by the dealership to help her mom buy a car, Barrett saw the child safety seat check going on and wanted to see if her child's seat was safe.

What she learned shocked and amazed her.

"We found out that the seat had been in an accident before and that it had been expired for two years," Barrett said. "It was a gift from family and I never thought the safety of the seat was ever in question.

"We've been using that seat for two years and to hear that it's been unsafe for that entire time really opens your eyes. It's more of a relief now."

For those who were unable to make it to the event, Diaz said there are many ways to still get a seat checked.

"All Gwinnett County police precincts have a certified child-safety technician, as well as most city police departments and all fire stations," she said. "No matter where someone is, there's an expert near to ensure kids are put in the safest position possible."

For more information, visit www.safekidsgwinnett.org.